Today was the hottest day in Serbia ever since the temperature has been measured, 45 C.
If we Serbs were truly interested in our survival as a nation, we’d be scrambling to get some modern hardware for dealing with ecological catastrophes. It’s been ten years since Milosevic sold off our forest fire-fighting aircraft and pocketed the money. We would talk together seriously about last year’s massive floods throughout the Danube basin, about this year’s deadly heat wave in Serbia and throughout the Balkans, about the state of emergency in our neighbor Greece, about the electricity shortages and blackouts throughout the regions, about the woods of our homeland set on fire.
Even tidy Britain is being overwhelmed with their flood catastrophes, while here in Serbia we lack any organized emergency-response because the Serbian state is, by its nature, in an emergency situation all the time.
Instead, the Serbian Parliament spent this day discussing Kosovo: angling for Russian friendship to fend off the US demands, while dodging EU pressure to simply let go of that long-lost province. They have no air conditioning inside the Serbian Parliament, so delegates were comically fanning themselves with official papers while the presidents were sweating in their stuffy official suits.
The Russians promised us practical help for the smoldering forests of the border, but they have yet so send a single Russian helicopter. Meanwhile the firemen and local peasants are saving our burning forest heritage with raw courage and mostly hand-tools.
When will we overcome our local obsessions and realize we are part of a world in a general crisis? The climate crisis isn’t for rich countries, it’s for every country. Especially us. We had Floods in 2006, now Fires in 2007 — the cause is in the Air, and we will end up with no Earth.
Global warming is invisible… it steals up on us like a slow fever, but our daily lives are being transformed by it. Kids can’t get milk at school, eggs might be poisoned with salmonella, the crops are wilting in the fields.
My friend, a pianist, sews clothes by her air-conditioner instead of playing her piano.
I am singing after dark instead of writing at noon.
My friend is writing a book about the future but is not sure if it is the same book he started anymore.
My young friend, the web designer, had her computer collapse. So she went out to walk her three dogs and collapsed from the heat in two hours.
My friend activist from inner Serbia is sleeping in an office where there is an air conditioner. Two weeks ago before, she condemned air conditioners because they burn fossil fuels and make the global warming worse. She also has the very Serbian superstition that cold drafts of air are not good for your bones. Well, any hot draft of air over 40C does not cool your body — it heats your body and can kill you from heatstroke.
My pregnant Albanian friend from Pristina sleeps heavily day and night while her friends in Kosovo demonstrate for some unilateral declaration of independence.
If there is any justice in this injustice, is that global warming has no borders or nationality, and yet it has guilty and victims. Guilty: all of us who ignored inconvenient truths and sacrificed the ecological conscience for other more or less legitimate priorities. Victims: everyone yet to be born on our damaged planet; when crops wilt and forests burn down to black stumps, does it matter if that wasteland is called Kosovo or Serbia?
Year by year, mankind is becoming justly afraid of our vengeful climate. I have an epiphany: our world in 1999 is becoming all the world. No electrical, no water, no business-as-usual: fear. I remember those bombing days of Serbia and Kosovo when everyone in this land, without exception, was a refugee under a scowling enemy sky.